Wineries in Switzerland? Absolutely there is! And boy, are there some good ones! See, the thing is, when we think about Switzerland, we think of skiing, chocolates, and incredible watches, but wait, there is more…. and by more, I mean wine.
Let’s enter the world of wine in Switzerland and check out some incredible wines.
There are 1500+ wineries in Switzerland that span across 6 unique regions of the country. Influenced by Germany to the North, France to the West, Italy to the South, and Austria to the East, wineries in Switzerland are influenced by some of the world’s best wine regions.
But, let’s hold that thought for a minute. Look at where Switzerland is located on the map. You could not ask to be surrounded by better wine-producing countries!
Look, I know it might seem like somewhat of a foreign concept, a winery in Switzerland, since most people think of snow and chocolate.
So, without further ado, grab a glass, of wine, that is, and let’s learn more about wineries in Switzerland.
Let’s go back in history
A Brief History of Wineries in Switzerland
Wineries in Switzerland have a rich history; in fact, one of the oldest wineries in Europe is actually located in Switzerland and not too far from Zurich.
Schloss Salenberg started producing wine way back in 950 A.D and still does to this day!
Furthermore, the Middle Ages saw the spread of viticulture in the region, driven primarily by the efforts of the monasteries; thanks, Monks!
Now, although Swiss wines started to become exported globally and enjoyed a favorable reputation, the 20th century brought about a decline in Swiss wine production.
Two World Wars and the tough economic times that followed generally slowed exports. But, it didn’t stop the planting of more grape varieties, from sauvignon black to pinot gris, all across the country.
Skip forward to today; wine is produced in all of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, with Geneva, Neuchâtel, Ticino, Valais, and Vaud known for their significant wine-producing regions.
The country is home to about 1,500+ winegrowers and occupies approximately 15,000 hectares or 37,000 acres of vineyards.
Swiss wines are predominantly made in the west and south of the country, where the climate and terrain are more favorable for vineyards.
Red grape varieties occupy 57% of Swiss vineyard areas, while white grape varieties account for 43%.
Some of the most popular grape varieties grown in Switzerland(of which all I have tried.. oops) include:
While Swiss wines may not have a prominent presence in the international market, their long-standing heritage and local diversity make them a unique and fascinating topic for wine enthusiasts like us; well, I am assuming you enjoy wine as much as I do!
Let’s check out the main wine regions in the country.
Main Wine Regions of Switzerland
The Swiss wine landscape is both diverse and absolutely stunning, with several regions that stand out for their unique winemaking traditions and terroir.
In this section, we’ll explore the main wine regions of Valais, Vaud, Geneva, and Ticino.
As you delve into Valais, you’ll find it’s the largest contributor to Swiss wine, responsible for about one-third of the country’s wine production.
The region is marked by its stunning terraced vineyards in the Rhône Valley, along with the iconic pyramid-shaped Matterhorn and luxurious alpine resorts.
With 5,000 hectares of vineyards, Valais is home to various grape varieties like Pinot Noir, Chasselas, and Gamay.
Also, some of the notable indigenous varieties from this region include Petite Arvine, Amigne, Humagne Rouge, and Cornalin.
Next up, we have Vaud.
As the second-largest Swiss wine region, Vaud is situated around the shores of Lake Geneva, boasting breathtaking terraced vineyards and picturesque views.
Notable areas within Vaud include La Côte, Lavaux, and Chablais.
In this region, you can find a wealth of international and indigenous grape varieties such as Chasselas – the most planted grape in Vaud – as well as Pinot Noir, Gamay, and Chardonnay.
The local winemaking traditions in Vaud result in elegant and delicate wines, and not to mention, this area is stunning!
Close to the city of the same name, the Geneva wine region benefits from both Lake Geneva and the Rhône River’s influences.
The landscapes are characterized by rolling hills blanketed in vineyards, making up about 1,200 hectares.
Geneva, being an international city, boasts versatile wines from grape varieties such as Gamay, Pinot Noir, Chasselas, and some rarer varieties like Gamaret and Garanoir.
As you explore Geneva’s wineries, you will discover a perfect blend of tradition and innovation in winemaking.
Next up, it’s time to speak a little Italian, Ciao!
Ticino, is stunning and is located in the Italian-speaking southern part of Switzerland. It has a Mediterranean flair to its wine culture.
Also, it’s known for its lush valleys, lakes, and palm trees, giving the region a unique character among Swiss wine regions. And I forgot to mention the amazing climate.
Merlot is the predominant grape variety in Ticino, making up almost 90% of the region’s vineyards.
Furthermore, you can explore both red and white wines made from Merlot and international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.
While sipping on Ticino’s wines, savor the distinct flavors that reflect the region’s diverse landscapes, and make sure you check out Ascona!
What Are The Main Grape Varieties in Switerland?
In Switzerland, you’ll find a diverse range of grape varieties, with some being native to the region and others imported from different parts of the world.
Let’s explore the main red and white grape varieties that are commonly found in Swiss vineyards.
When it comes to producing red wine in Switzerland, you’ll find several popular options to choose from:
Pinot Noir: By far the most widely cultivated red grape variety in Switzerland, Pinot Noir is responsible for many high-quality wines.
Gamay: Known for its light and fruity characteristics, Gamay is another popular red grape variety to look out for in Swiss vineyards.
Merlot: Although primarily associated with Bordeaux, Merlot has found a home in Switzerland as well, particularly in the Ticino region.
Switzerland also boasts an impressive array of white grape varieties, including:
Chasselas: This versatile white grape variety is the most widely cultivated in Switzerland, producing crisp and refreshing wines.
Petite Arvine: Regarded as one of the most unique and premium quality white wines coming out of Switzerland, Petite Arvine showcases the best of the Valais region’s offerings.
Other varieties: In addition to the major white grape varieties, of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, there are numerous others that contribute to the diverse Swiss wine landscape, such as Riesling, Sylvaner, and Müller-Thurgau.
Overall, depending on your taste preferences and the type of wine you’re interested in, both red and white grape varieties from Switzerland offer plenty of options.
Now, you’ve got an overview of what delicious wines the country produces; let’s explore some of the best wineries in Switzerland.
5 Wonderful Wineries in Switzerland
Switzerland is home to many exceptional wineries which are worth visiting. Here are a few that you should not miss:
Domaine De La Crausaz: Nestled in the heart of the Lavaux vineyards overlooking the lake, and built in 1515, this estate offers a breathtaking panorama of mountain and Lake Geneva views. Located just a few minutes from Lausanne and Vevey, it’s easy to get to.
Sipping on a glass of wine during a wine tasting on their large terrace with a breathtaking view was a real highlight for me. Well, aside from the wine, that is.
You will find a beautiful selection of reds, white and sparkling to taste and for sale.
This vineyard is only 1.5 hours from Geneva; it’s best to jump on a train to get there.
Why? Because the train ride is absolutely stunning, the views over the large Lake Geneva (Lac léman) and the whole wine region are truly breathtaking.
You can see the train route below.
For more info and opening hours, you can check out the Demain De LA Crausaz Website.
Terres De Lavaux: Now, just down the road from Domaine De La Crausaz, you will find a UNESCO World Heritage Site vineyard with a rich history and diverse range of wines.
Another spectacular vineyard on the shores of Lac Léhman, but with a larger and more diverse offering.
You’ll find a few grape varieties you’ll recognize, you’l find Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but then you’ll be introduced to some beautiful little-known varieties too.
This wine region is one of the most picturesque in Switzerland and this specific winery is one of the most stunning wineries in Switzerland,
You can learn more about their opening hours and the tasting options of this wine region on their website here.
Again, the train is your best bet and only takes a little over an hour, and with Lake Geneva to your right, it is truly breathtaking.
Ok, let’s now let’s go big; let’s embrace some Italian flare. Let’s head down to Ticino for an awesome Italian Merlot wine tasting and maybe a glass of white wine too!
Vinattieri: A stunning vineyard that is known for, amongst others, a stunning Merlot.
With a stunning array of grapes situated of 100 hectares or 247 acres in Mendrisiotto, Lugano.
The vineyard is situated between Varese and Como and is very close to the Italian border.
Now, unlike a few other vineyards, you must fill out a form to request a visit. Now, although they speak Italian, the English of the staff was great, and the tasting we had here was incredible.
Their Merlot is one of the richest, boldest, and most beautiful reds I have had. Alongside that, they also have a stunning range of whites and rose wine too.
If you are down in this wine region, be sure to get in touch for a wine tasting, their website can be found here.
Well, I’ve got another Italian winery for you; let’s check it out.
Castello Luigi: Welcome to Swiss-Italian wine country! Ending with my favorite or definitely in my top 3 favorite wineries in Switzerland.
As I am sure you can tell by the name, Castello Luigi is located in the Italian part of Switzerland or the “Ticino wine region.”
Castello Luigi is a family-owned stunning 43,000 sq or 10.63 acres of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and we can’t forget 1 acre of exceptionally Chardonnay. Well, this was where it all started.
Now the vineyard covers 278,463 sqm or 68.81 acres and produces some of the most exquisite wines in the Italian-speaking canton of Switzerland.
Now aside from the red and white wine being exceptional, this is visually one of the most stunning wineries in Switzerland. Castello, meaning “castle” in Italian, literally looks like a castle emerging from the grapes.
Also, what makes this vineyard unique is that the actual wine cellar has been built 18.5m down into the earth so that all processes are gravity fed. Their way of wine production is extremely well thought out.
If you are looking to head to the Ticino and are interested in wine tours in this region, I highly recommend you get in touch.
Oops, I nearly forgot, for you white wine lovers out there, like a good chardonnay? Theirs is exceptional!
You can find further their details here.
Gregor Kuonen Winery: You’ll find a lot of smaller wineries in Switzerland like this in the way of passion, care, and thoughtfulness, but this one is a little different.
Less than an hour on the train from Zurich, and you will reach this little winery that punches big, real big. Their Pinot Noir was awarded 96 points in the decanter awards, and rightly so; it is a cracker!
Their cellar door is open for wine tasting Monday – Friday 08:00- 12:00 & 13:30 – 17:30, and the best part, it is literally only 45 mins on the train from Zurich.
Check out their website here, and make sure you pop in if you are in Zurich and have some time to kill.
Furthermore, one thing about the Swiss is, when they do something, they do it well. “Organic” and “sustainable” are buzzwords these days, although in Switzerland, their practice is very common.
Swiss Sustainable Practices and Organic Wineries
As you explore Swiss wineries, you’ll find that many of them are embracing sustainable practices and organic winemaking. These eco-friendly methods not only reduce the carbon footprint of the wineries but also help produce high-quality wines.
One of the key aspects of sustainable winemaking is implementing smart and precision viticulture. This approach ensures efficiency in the use of resources such as water, energy, and chemicals while minimizing waste and environmental impact.
Additionally, embracing circular economy models allows wineries to reuse byproducts and minimize resource depletion.
When touring Swiss wineries, you’ll likely encounter a few that stand out for their sustainable and organic practices.
For example, Domaine du Daley is one of the oldest wineries in Switzerland, known for its commitment to organic winemaking. It was founded in 1392 and is not far from Geneva if you are visiting.
Want to immerse yourself a little further in a central European wine lovers’ paradise, aka Switzerland? Let’s check out how the Swiss celebrate the production of this wonderful little table grape!
Swiss Wine Festivals and Events
Are you planning to be in Switzerland between the 17th of June and the 3rd of November?
Looking for an excuse to celebrate local wines and have a glass of sauvignon blanc, merlot, chardonnay (and many more) and celebrate Swiss wine country?
You’re in luck, Switzerland Tourism lists out everything that is happening around the country, don’t worry, it’s in English; I know, I know Swiss German ain’t easy!
Let’s Wrap Things Up
As you now know, there is an abundance of wineries in Switzerland, from little hobby ones to world renown.
You’ll be spoilt for choice as you travel the country and get to try Swiss wine whilst enjoying endless lakes and mountain views, cheers wine lovers!